Thursday Newsletter

October 6, 2017

October 5, 2017

Dear Families of St. Margaret of Scotland School,

This week, let’s focus on the mission of St. Margaret of Scotland School, and allow me to share with you just a few recent examples of how we live our mission vibrantly every day of the year!

St. Margaret of Scotland School is a diverse, urban, vibrant, and inclusive Catholic community. We provide a challenging learning environment for children, prekindergarten through eighth grade, in which they realize their academic potential and giftedness in body, mind, and spirit. Our students embody the example of our patron saint as responsible leaders and caretakers of our community through works of service and social justice.

Our challenging learning environment…

St. Margaret offers a rigorous curriculum that includes the basic academic subjects, and a generous menu of electives from which middle school students can make choices based on their particular interests. This is considered “best practice” in current instructional practice.

For example, middle school students have a choice among three world languages to study at SMOS—French, Russian and Spanish. We integrate that human knowledge with knowledge of our faith in a variety of ways. During the month of October, one of two dedicated to Our Blessed Mother, Mary, each class begins with prayer. This month, these classes begin with the “Hail Mary” in the language being taught. Please note translations below. You may want to ask your child to teach you how to pray in another language! The Russian students prayed it with me yesterday!

In Spanish…

Dios te salve, Maria. Llena eres de gracia: El Seńor es contigo. Bendita tú eres entre todas las mujeres. Y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre: Jesús. Santa María, Madre de Dios,  ruega por nosotros pecadores, ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte. Amén.

In French…

Je vous salue, Marie, pleine de grâce; Le Seigneur est avec vous. Vous êtes bénie entre toutes les femmes Et Jésus, le fruit de vos entrailles, est béni. Sainte Marie, Mère de Dieu, Priez pour nous pauvres pécheurs, Maintenant et à l’heure de notre mort. Amen

In Russian…


…in which they realize their academic potential and giftedness in body,…

SMOS students work hard and play hard! Recess provides an important break in the day after which students are better able to focus. It’s always good to remember how difficult it can be to sit all day in a staff meeting as adults. For children, it must be much more challenging! Here at St. Margaret, they are given many opportunities throughout the day to move—in PE, from homeroom to “specials,” and within their own classroom from desks to centers to carpets.


Last week, SMOS Middle School teachers introduced this year’s SMART curriculum. Students in grades 6-8 choose a subject in which they have a special interest and study it in depth through research and the creation of an end product to be showcased at the SMART Fair in the spring. (Again, an example of best practice instruction!)

Areas of SMART study this year include:

Model U.N.
Robotics and Rube Goldberg
National History Day; This Year’s Theme: “Conflict and Compromise”
Science Fair
Christian Service
History of St. Louis and Missouri in Decades

and spirit…[through] the example of our patron saint as responsible leaders and caretakers of our community through works of service and social justice.

As Coordinator of Religious Education, my most favorite responsibility is assisting teachers and students in the preparation of liturgies and prayer services throughout the year. In this, our Centennial Anniversary year, we are constantly focused on celebrating the spirit of our patron, St. Margaret of Scotland, a humble woman of service to her people. She taught her own children to do the same.

At SMOS, children learn to be people of prayer and service with “unconditional generosity.” Middle school students in the Teen Outreach Program reached out to those affected by Hurricane Harvey. As a result of bake sale proceeds and out-of-uniform donations, they provided over $1,000 in support of their “neighbors in need.” We pray for those in need, as well, at daily prayer, and through special intentions at Mass.

On Tuesday morning this week, we gathered for prayer with and for our beloved pets, asking God to bless them for bringing joy to our lives. Everyone behaved well, including animals, and our fourth graders in Ms. Wilson’s class led us in another beautiful outdoor prayer service, including He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.  (Let’s continue to sing that song vibrantly and with hope!)

Tomorrow, October 6, SMOS students and staff will pray for peace and justice in our world. 8U has carefully and prayerfully prepared this liturgy after an in-depth study of recent immigration issues and DACA legislation. Informed by Catholic social teaching, the eighth-graders have studied the document, as well as those provided by US Bishops, and will be writing letters to elected officials to express their concerns. We implore the Holy Spirit to guide all who can affect change for good, including ourselves, when we stand up for what is right.

Next Wednesday, October 11, is the Feast of St. Pope John XXIII, who called the Second Vatican Council to “open the windows” to a fresh approach to being Catholic. Mr. Adams’ eighth graders are planning this middle-school liturgy, and I listened in as they discussed the readings, and the outcomes of this historic council. Please join us for this Eucharistic celebration! Next Friday, October 13, sixth graders in Ms. Spengemann’s homeroom will lead us in prayer for the success of the annual Walk-A-Thon, as well as our own personal journeys to heaven. Please join us!

And finally…

Last Sunday’s Centennial Alumni Mass and Open House was an unqualified success! Honored alumni guests reminisced about their days at SMOS and marveled at the positive changes and growth! The Centennial Planning Committee should feel a deep sense of satisfaction seeing the fruits of their labor. God did His part by answering our prayers for good weather. We hadn’t DARED ask for perfect weather, but that IS what we received. Choral and instrumental support of the liturgy was faithful to SMOS style, and Fr. O’Toole told the story of St. Margaret of Scotland School from beginning to end, which is our tagline…“In the end, it’s the beginning that counts.” (Sometimes we can reverse that, and say, “In the beginning, it’s the end that counts--our “end” being eternal life with God in heaven!

PS…The “Safe Touch” classes are almost complete. Following a directive from the Archdiocese, and grateful for providing Catholic elementary and secondary schools with this program, we have taken one more step toward teaching children about personal safety. The three rules are simple. If they ever feel that “icky feeling” in their stomachs, or get nervous and sweaty about what “just doesn’t feel right,” they say “NO;” they GET AWAY; and they TELL A PARENT OR OTHER TRUSTED ADULT!

Parents are invited to review the curriculum on Fast Direct at “Links.” Then click on “Everybody.” Students have already brought home, or will be soon, documents about safety tips that should be reviewed regularly, and parent information for family discussions in the future. I have been blessed to have shared the teaching of these classes with Ms. Erin Brennan, SMOS Parish Coordinator of Faith Formation. When asked what some clues are that our body gives us, one bright young man offered, “My brain is telling me right now that I need to pay attention!” Good answer!!!

St. Margaret of Scotland, pray for us!

Sue Brown, Assistant Principal and Coordinator of Religious Education


First Reconciliation Parent Meeting—Thursday, Oct. 12, 7:00 pm in the school cafeteria. Your presence is very important, as much information will be shared with you to help you help us to make this a very special event you your second graders faith formation. If you have any questions, please contact me via Fast Direct.

Annual SMOS Walk-a-Thon: Saturday, 10/14
This FUN-RAISER event involves all SMOS students and their families. Enjoy the day in beautiful Tower Grove Park, while raising money and building community for SMOS School.

Our goal this year is $20,000 for the school’s operating expenses. When we reach that goal, the school celebrates with a day off of school—the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (11/22).

To make this critical event happen, we need EVERY student to participate, and lots of volunteers to make it happen. Go to this link to sign up for your shift:

If you have any questions, please contact Chris Stephens at school, or parent coordinators Angie Reitenbach and Mary Lisa Penilla at and

Shaw Art Fair—Watch for a wonderful selection of artwork from K-8 students in this weekend’s Shaw Art Fair, which will be held Saturday and Sunday in the 4100 and 4200 blocks of Flora Place. All second graders should have a piece in the fair, and a selection of works will come from other grades. The art will be hung in the art activities and school exhibits area of the fair.

Admission to the fair is $7 per adult, which is good for both days! Children 14 & under are free with an adult. Bring a non-perishable food item to receive $1 off admission—benefiting Isaiah 58 Ministries and Mount Olive church.

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